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Behavior

Canine behavior is influenced by developmental age, experiences, breed and environment. Although genetics have a significant influence on behavior, individuals are a function of their genetics and their experiences. Because behavior problems continue to be a significant cause of relinquishment and euthanasia, it is essential that behavioral evaluations and interventions be incorporated into each patient’s veterinary visit.

Nutritional Assessment

Nutritional assessment should be part of every visit to the veterinary practice. Evaluation of the body condition score (BCS), muscle condition score (MCS), and nutritional factors can reveal a need for change in the feeding practice. 

Parasite Control

Despite the widespread availability of safe and effective treatments, internal and external parasites remain common in dogs, particularly in those who do not receive routine veterinary care. Year-round, broad-spectrum control products with efficacy against heartworm, intestinal parasites, fleas, and ticks prevent disease in dogs by preventing the most common internal and external parasites.

Dental Care

With appropriate care, oral and dental disease and associated pain can be prevented or minimized. Because so many dogs are affected by dental and periodontal disease, dental care must be incorporated into each dog's preventive healthcare plan and discussed at every visit.

Breed-Specific Considerations

Historically, we have recognized that breed-specific physiology and clinical pathological normal values may vary. The evidence-based studies and literature to help guide decision making regarding specific breeds has been limited. Over the last several years, there has been important new information available on this topic.

Conclusion

A patient’s life stage is one of the most relevant aspects of clinical practice because it guides risk assessment, a preventive healthcare plan, and appropriate treatment. A canine patient’s life stage also forms the basis for an ongoing dialog with the pet owner about a lifetime healthcare strategy for their pet.

Canine Resources

Additional industry resources to support the 2019 AAHA Canine Life Stage Guidelines.

Canine Life Stage

Guidelines are offered to guide the veterinary practitioner in designing a comprehensive, individualized wellness plan for each stage of a dog’s life. Life stages are defined by both age and breed characteristics for practical purposes.

Life Stage Checklists

Review these tables to establish checklists to determine if your canine patients are receive optimum care for their specific life stage. When applicable, a link has been provided to other AAHA Guidelines for additional information. 

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